Deviate from Daily Patterns
Do you usually put your right leg into your pants first? Try the left! Though it seems silly, this reversal (and others like it) will stimulate an area of your brain that might not get as much action.
Don’t Overwork Yourself
If you hit the books as hard as you’d like, it might not give you the edge that you had planned. Researchers believe that stress from overwork yields reduced cognitive ability and increases the possibility of impaired sleep. The moral of the story is to take breaks and try to avoid cramming!
The human brain is comprised of more than 80% water. When we are dehydrated it’s impossible for our neurons to perform at the top of their ability. Professionals recommend drinking eight six-ounce glasses of water on the average day.
Maybe spending a night hanging out with a friend isn’t the best preparation for an exam, but spending some of your time in an engaging discussion will certainly foster mental preparedness. Fortunately for many, research shows that social interaction sharpens the memory and overall brain function as a result of processing information and gauging and integrating responses.
Engage in Physical Activity
Physical activity can increase endorphin levels and also integrate perception, organization, and planning. Making connections between brain areas based on common surroundings will allow for these actions and many others to take place much more easily over time.
Studies show that people who sleep for seven hours exhibit significantly more brain activity than those who don’t. But remember, everyone is different. In any case, sleep deprivation inhibits learning, concentration, and memory formation—not to mention the overall groggy and achy feeling the next day.
Test for Retention
Storing and retrieving information from your brain can increase cognitive functioning over time. Internalizing, or “digesting,” the material we read or study proves to be the best way to expand our memory.
Maintain a Healthy Heart
The brain has the highest oxygen demand of any body organ. If the heart fails to pump an adequate volume of blood to the brain, your performance will be impaired. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterols and choose lean meat over other fattier sources of protein. Don’t forget your fruits and veggies too!
Absorb Essential Nutrients
Essential fatty acids are valuable in enhancing communication between brain cells (neurons). Protein is also important to make neurotransmitters that send messages from each cell to another. Your brain needs glucose to function, too! Vitamins and minerals available from fruits and vegetables come into play again here—they serve as antioxidants to repair and protect your cells from harm.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Automatic negative thoughts, or “ANT”s as many professionals call them, inflame the areas of the brain that are responsible for feelings of anxiety. They also increase the production of stress hormones that kill brain cells. Whenever negative thoughts enter your mind, get them out! A good tip is to write it down and create a plan to alleviate the stress before it gets the best of your brain.